The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated an imprisoned leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and two businesses linked to the cartel’s drug smuggling activity under the Kingpin Act. The individual and entities are:
Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia
Zarka de Mexico S.A. DE C.V. (Mexico)
Zarka de Occidente S.A. DE C.V. (Mexico)
Zambada Garcia, also known as “El Rey (The King),” is the brother of Ismael “Mayo” Zambada Garcia, who was designated by OFAC in May 2002 and is a key Sinaloa leader and associate of fugitive Sinaloa leader Chapo Guzman. Prior to his arrest by Mexican federal police in October 2008, El Rey was responsible for smuggling cocaine and ephedrine, a key component of crystal meth, through the Mexico City airport on on behalf of his brother. In August 2009 Jesus Zambada Garcia was indicted by U.S. federal courts in Brooklyn (indictment) and Chicago along with 9 other Mexican cartel leaders and is currently awaiting extradition to the United States.
Before his arrest, El Rey reportedly kept a low profile until the violent split between the Sinaloa and the Beltran Leyva Cartel. After the rift, Zambada Garcia’s name began appearing on messages left with the bodies of a number of victims of drug-related violence. According to sources cited the Mexican magazine Contralinea, Jesus Zambada Garcia was arrested after the location of his safe-house was revealed by Beltran Leyva Cartel member Édgar Valdez Villarreal a.k.a. “La Barbie.” The report also stated that La Barbie had been begun working as an informant for Mexican authorities in early 2008. Media reports at the time indicated that Zambada Garcia had found after an anonymous tip was placed to authorities.
El Rey’s 2008 arrest apparently angered Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada Garcia so much that they considered assaulting Mexican and American government or media buildings with heavy weaponry. In testimony offered during the trial of Sinaloa operative Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, during a meeting following El Rey’s arrest the two cartel leaders spoke of the need to “send the gringos a message” for what they viewed as increasing American interference in their affairs. Chapo Guzman himself was reported to have said “let it be a government building it doesn’t matter whose. An embassy or a consulate, a media outlet or a television station.” Staging the attack in Mexico City would place the suspicion on the Beltran Leyva, who controlled the city at the time. An assault using small arms would not send the appropriate message either. Zambada-Niebla told the informant present at the meeting, “we want big U.S. guns, or RPGs.” It was also suggested that these weapons be purchased from U.S. service members returning from Iraq.
The two Culican-based entities identified by OFAC, a retail clothing and accessories business as well as an agricultural company, are owned or controlled by Zynthia Borboa Zazueta, who was designated in May 2007 and is an associate of Ismael Zambada Garcia.
“OFAC continues to target Ismael Zambada Garcia and his drug trafficking and money laundering network to cripple their influence and deny them access to the U.S. financial system.” said OFAC Director Adam Szubin in a statement. “This action is the latest in a series by OFAC to weaken and disrupt the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael Zambada Garcia, and his organization.”
The full OFAC statement can be found here.
A chart of the designated network can be found here.